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What are the Adoption Requirements in North Carolina?

It’s a common question from people who are considering adoption in our state: What are the North Carolina adoption requirements?

Fortunately, most prospective adoptive parents in North Carolina will meet the requirements to adopt a child, as long as they can provide a safe and stable home. With a proper adoption professional guiding you through the necessary adoption requirements, you can successfully and legally adopt a child in North Carolina.

If you are considering an adoption in North Carolina, the adoption attorneys at the Parker Herring Law Group PLLC can answer any questions you have about the requirements to adopt and help you meet any legal requirements along the way. For more information about your particular adoption qualifications, please call the law firm at 919-821-1860.

To help prospective adoptive parents like you understand what they need to adopt a child, here are the answers to some of the most common questions about adoption requirements in North Carolina.

1. How old do you have to be to adopt in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you must be an adult in order to adopt, which means you must be at least 18 years old. While the North Carolina adoption laws do not set an adoption age limit for prospective adoptive parents, recognize that certain adoption professionals may set their own age standards for adoptive parents, especially for those completing a private domestic infant adoption.

2. Do you have to be married to adopt in North Carolina?

There are no marital requirements to adopt a child in North Carolina, meaning that single people have the same right to adopt as married couples. Again, some adoption professionals may set marriage requirements even though there is no legal restriction on single-parent adoptions.

However, when it comes to couples adopting jointly, prospective parents must be married in order to do so. Second-parent adoptions are not legal in North Carolina, which means that unmarried couples cannot adopt a child jointly like they may be able to in other states. If you are unmarried and would like to adopt a child with your partner, you may need to consider getting married or adopting in another state to complete your family-building process.

3. Can same-sex couples adopt in North Carolina?

Because of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, same-sex couples have the same legal right to adopt jointly in the United States as heterosexual couples. There are no laws in North Carolina that prevent LGBT individuals and couples from adopting. See Obergefell v. Hodges for more information.

Hopeful same-sex adoptive parents can adopt through three methods: as a single parent, jointly as a married couple and through a stepparent adoption. Because second-parent adoptions are not permitted in North Carolina, unmarried same-sex couples cannot adopt jointly.

4. Can a felon or someone with a criminal history adopt a child in North Carolina?

Whether someone can adopt a child with a criminal history will depend upon the crime they committed, the severity of their sentence and their personal background. North Carolina adoption requirements necessitate that all prospective adoptive parents undergo a screening and background check process before they can adopt, which means that a prospective parent’s criminal history will be known and considered in their adoption application.

It’s encouraged that prospective adoptive parents speak with an adoption professional like an adoption lawyer to determine whether this kind of personal history may impact their ability to adopt. Preplacement assessments are always required in order to adopt, and each agency has social workers to prepare a home study.

5. Are there any other requirements for adoption in North Carolina?

Once hopeful parents understand these straightforward adoption requirements, they may ask, “What else do I need to adopt a child?”

One of the first qualifications to adopt a child in North Carolina is passing screening and background checks. These are designed to ensure that a prospective adoptive family can provide a safe and stable home for a child. The level of screenings that prospective parents undergo may depend upon the adoption process they choose, so speak with an adoption professional to learn more. Each agency has its own requirements regarding screening and background checks.

A crucial part of these background checks is the North Carolina home study investigation. Every prospective adoptive parent must complete this investigation if they are adopting a child who is unrelated to them; this adoption requirement is often waived in stepparent and relative adoptions. A home study requires a trained social worker to visit the home of adopting parents to conduct in-home interviews and make sure their home is a safe environment in which to raise a child. There are several local professionals that can help you satisfy this adoption requirement.

North Carolina adoption laws also require post-placement assessments in non-relative adoptions. Usually, these will be conducted by the same professional who completes a family’s home study, and the extent of the post-placement assessments will vary based on the adoption process being pursued. These assessments will be necessary for an adoption to be finalized in North Carolina.

Remember, in addition to the legal qualifications for adoption in North Carolina, different adoption professionals will set different requirements for their particular adoption programs, as well. Before you commit to a particular adoption program, therefore, make sure you fully research and understand its specific requirements for adopting a child.

At the Parker Herring Law Group PLLC, we will explain in detail the different requirements to adopt for different adoption processes in North Carolina, helping you to find the family-building process that’s perfect for you. To learn more today, please call our law office at 919-821-1860 or submit our online form here.